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SC stays Calcutta HC order; WB Panchayat polls to be held on May 14 as scheduled 

New Delhi: West Bengal Panchayat polls to be held on May 14 as scheduled by the State Election Commission after the Supreme Court on Thursday stayed a Calcutta High Court order allowing filling of nomination by candidates through emails.

A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud stayed the Calcutta High Court’s order after hearing arguments from senior counsel Rakesh Dwivedi, representing the state election commission and senior counsel PS Patwalia for the BJP.

A Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court had directed the state election commission to accept the nomination papers submitted via email by 3 pm on April 23 for the May 14 Panchayat polls.

The Bench, however, restrained the West Bengal State Election Commission from publishing the results of 345 candidates who got elected unopposed. Results of these candidates can’t be published without the top court’s permission, it said.

The Bench directed the state election commission government to ensure “absolutely free and fair” polls on May 14 keeping in view the concept of purity of elections in a democracy.

The order came on a petition filed by the state election commission challenging the Calcutta High Court order allowing filling of nomination by candidates through emails.

Patwalia alleged that in the guise of the state election commission, the West Bengal Government had come to the top court. Wondering how 34% candidates got elected unopposed, he said it raised questions over the entire election process. He pointed out how the state election commission has last month recalled its order extending the date for submission of nomination papers.

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